The Art of Seeing Things

John Burroughs, Essay by, Charlotte Zoe Walker, Editor, John Burroughs, Author Syracuse University Press $49.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8156-2880-4
An American essayist and naturalist, Burroughs wrote 28 books between 1867 and 1922; his career was a product of turn-of-the-last-century America's desire for a steady diet of nature writing. This selection from Syracuse's complete set of his works is divided into eight sections ""Perception and the Natural World,"" ""Farming and Rural Life,"" ""Far from Home,"" ""Science and Field Study"" and ""Autobiography"" among them. Many of the earlier essays present us with Burroughs's direct observations of the natural world, the lives of animals in the wild and those on and around his farm in particular. The title essay exhorts readers to drop out, turn on and tune in without abusing any substances. Burroughs's childhood on a dairy farm (circa 1840), his attempt to hear the song of the nightingale while on a trip to England in 1882 and a fascinating description of icebergs forming from an Alaskan glacier figure in elsewhere. And he writes with the enthusiasm and boldness of his friend Whitman's Song of Myself. But while buffs of the period will find a lot to like here, most readers will find long stretches tedious, and the particular selections not really substantiated. But the gems, when they turn up, make for worthwhile period reading. (Apr.) Forecast: University libraries, particularly those serving schools with naturalism and ecology programs, will find this book a convenient way to have some Burroughs without committing to the full set. Smaller and specialty stores in rural areas might also keep the paperback on hand for weekenders and others.
Reviewed on: 01/08/2001
Release date: 01/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 282 pages - 978-0-8156-0678-9
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